By Fr. Jason Cargo
Special to the Corsicana Daily Sun
Lying in bed early Monday, Feb. 11, my phone quickly buzzed. A text flashed across the screen. “Oh my. The Pope has just resigned!”
This catapulted me into a whirlwind of thought. “Is this for real? Could he resign? Has this happened before? Why?” The questions circled my mind. I got up, drew my first cup of coffee, said a brief prayer, and began to careen through the internet to answer these questions.
Surrounded by a gathering of Bishops and Cardinals of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI, who is bishop of Rome, renounced his position as pope effective on Feb. 28, 2013.
My classes taught me about the possibility of a Pope’s renunciation but I never thought it would happen. Church law states that the Pope can do so if made freely and done in the right way. (Canon 332). Based on this law, Pope Celestine V was the first to renounce his position in 1294 and then Pope Gregory XII renounced in 1415. Now, almost 600 years later, Pope Benedict XVI chose to follow suit.
Pope Benedict clearly had been thinking about this for several years. He made two pilgrimages to the tomb of Pope Celestine V and over his tomb draped his Pallium (a type of stole made out of wool which represents his office as Pope and Archbishop of Rome). He actually stated in the book “Light of the World” that if a Pope believed he could no longer govern that he had the right and obligation to renounce his position. Knowing Pope Benedict to be a man of humility and prayer, he did what many in the western world who strive to stay empowered could not, he stepped down.
For me and many Catholic faithful who had come to love Pope Benedict this news came as a great shock. At first, I could not believe it. When it seemed to be true, sadness and unsettledness crept in. That evening, a flame of anger erupted and ran through my body only to be quenched by the wetness of tears. I realized that I was in the midst of mourning. Although the man that I admired and loved was still alive, his papacy was passing. I had begun to grieve the loss of this spiritual father.
Many jumped quickly to ask what will it be like without Pope Benedict, what would happen to him, and who would be next? That’s for the next article.
Fr. Jason Cargo is preist at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Corsicana. His series of articles on the selection of a new pope will continue weekly through the selection process.